a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History Lyrics

In a Hole

Also Known As: What You Will

Music/Lyrics: Anastasio

Vocals: Page

Debut: 1989-10-20

Historian: Jeremy D. Goodwin

Last Update: 2014-09-04

Page sings this sprightly little ditty, which was played eight times in fall 1989, only to subsequently disappear from the Phish universe. It reflects the band’s jazzier leanings back in the Burlington days. The lyrics tell a story which, if not a straight transcription of a dream, is in any case dreamlike. The first-person narrator recounts his experiences running though a field, falling into a hole, and experiencing a harrowing plunge into the depths of the crevice. He somehow escapes, though it is only a momentary reprieve before he repeats his mistake, perhaps in the midst of an impenetrable cycle. The song’s name was apparently undetermined as late as 10/26/89, when Trey told the audience to “call it what you will,” followed by the joke that it was indeed called “What You Will.”

“In a Hole” debuted on 10/20/89, the first of three celebrated nights at The Front. This original incarnation (a hot jazz number) featured Dave Grippo and Russ Remington on alto and tenor saxes, respectively. It swings unrelentingly. This tune was played four times in the brief span between its debut and 10/26/89, and then popped up four more times between 11/30/89 and 12/16/89. Sadly it has yet to appear again.

“In a Hole” die-hards took some solace when it was sound-checked as recently as 7/4/99. But a generation passed before “In A Hole” surfaced again from the murky depths of early Phish history. During the encore on the second night of the Phish’s Labor Day weekend run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in 2014— in reference to a bit of business in which the band had just acted as if the show was over after “The Horse” (before indeed playing “Silent In The Morning” as expected)—Trey brought up the song (calling it “I’m In A Hole”) as an example of other “stupid stuff” the band used to do in its early days. (Page was off a couple years in his reckoning of when it happened, suggesting 1985 or 1986.)  “We wrote three verses and we practiced it for weeks and weeks and we finally played it live,” Trey said, “and the entire gag as, as it were…”  before Fishman interrupted by suggesting they “just play it.” 

Trey indicated he did not want to play it, thus robbing the fans present of what would have been one of the most statistically significant break-outs ever, a revival of the song after a gap of 1,346 shows. But he sang the song’s final lines, explaining that the whole point of it was the joke of shifting from singing “I’m in a hole” repeatedly to “I’m an A-hole.”  (This can be heard clearly on the aforementioned 10/26/89 version.) 

Though the more liberal setlist conventions employed at resulted in the song being credited—and available, including the story and its accompanying 13 seconds worth of musical performance, for purchase for $1.29 —the on-call setlist nerds at determined, after a lively internal debate, to categorize it as a mere tease.

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DaleCooper Reply
DaleCooper As have listed it as an official song on the release, I think it is appropriate to count it is as played at Dick's 2. Come on guys...
Score: 4
dogfaced Reply
Also he didnt indicate he didnt want to play it..he said i dont remember it...ironically same thing fish said about jennifer dances that .net so graciously counted as a song...
Score: 3
dogfaced Reply
Also kind of shocked .net feels it should trump the official PHISH kind of shocking and disturbing. But i guess if you control the phans stats have the power to overide whatever unfinished song you want....i just dont think its fair to pick and choose..if the band your website covers calls it a song...just thinking you provably should as well
Score: 2
davisnafshun Reply
During the 8/30/2014 Dick's run Saturday show encore, after The Horse and Silent In The Morning (disconnected for the first time ever), Trey shared with the audience a story about how he realized that they weren't playing The Horse and instead just playing Silent In The Morning. He mentioned that the Horseless "gag" that they were putting on reminded him of a song they used to play called "In a Hole" where its only redeeming value came from its chorus that when repeated again and again sounded like "I'm an A-Hole". Fish then egged on Trey to sing the song, which Trey declined but obliged to sing the chorus, which was accompanied by a rimshot when he got to the "I'm an A-Hole" part. He then laughed and said "Let's play some more music", referring to the encore, but not before saying "This stuff is as funny now as it was 30 years ago." The band then proceeded to play Fluffhead.

I guess it was enough of an attempt at the song that is now including it as one of the songs performed that night. That is a 1,346 show gap, making it a potential candidate for most shows between plays. It was last played on 12/16/89. Whatever the facts, its use capping off a solid show definitely shows that Phish can do anything.
Score: 2
unoclay Reply
unoclay I agree with's decision on this one NOT to list it at Dicks. It wasnt played. Listen to a real version and compare it to singing the lyrics.

Not played at Dicks works for me.

Now that I've given you guys support for this controversy, it's time to fix the missing Woo notations for countless 2013-2014 shows. When the band actively encourages Woo-ing, it should be a searchable/listed aspect of setlists. Esp. for the Halloween 2013 run...."Take off your patches" explanation (missing from setlist, therefore Trey's joke is inexplicable to future readers)
Score: 1
DaleCooper Reply
DaleCooper @dogfaced said:
Also he didnt indicate he didnt want to play it..he said i dont remember it...ironically same thing fish said about jennifer dances that .net so graciously counted as a song...
Just listened to that song. Fish "sings" 24 seconds of it, and that is liberal with the *dong* line. To say the length of singing is included in this decision is silly. There are numerous examples of only a line or two counting for a play. Bomb Factory anyone...?
Score: 1
dogfaced Reply
As liberal as's website may be with song count...its still PHISH'S legit website......jennifer dances was counted earlier this year. Fish sang one line then said i dont kbow anymore of this fn guys counted that...whats the differance...if in a hole doesnt count then jennifer dances shoyldnt either...loosing respect for the .net nerds i guess..maybe ill quit using your site... call it fair ..or dont call it at all
Score: 1
NiccuIus Reply
Time to update this!!!
Score: 1
mterry Reply
yes, bring it back. fun like dog log.
Score: 0
Zappa Reply
A bust out that few would recognize. I'd welcome it back with open arms.
Score: 0
makisupaman Reply
makisupaman Love it! Bring it back anytime!
Score: 0
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